There is a famous quote by Earl Nightingale, “Everything begins with an idea.” And in the world of business and entrepreneurship, this cannot be truer. Every great project, initiative, business, and product started with an idea. But, it is not simply enough to have an idea that you know is worth someone’s time. You need to research and have conviction and then understand how you need to get funding and resources.
That’s where Project Proposals come in. Project Proposals are the starting point for any successful initiative. You need to believe in your ideas to sell them to an investor, higher management, clients, stakeholders, or anyone in between that can help you reach your goal faster and smoother.
In this blog, you will learn:
What Is A Project Proposal And Why Do You Need It?
A project proposal is a document that outlines your plan for your project idea, including the initial framework to get it started, your aims and objectives, as well as your plans for achieving those objectives. It is the first line of formal communication between you and the stakeholders about the project and aims to onboard and communicate your vision in the most systematic way possible.
You need a project proposal to inform and persuade others to collaborate fund and support your project. It is often the thing that kicks off a new relationship with an outside stakeholder or a new team and builds confidence towards your project idea. It is also a document that showcases your project management skills, along with some other key skills such as research, analysis, and copywriting – or the ability to communicate succinctly and effectively.
Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting Your Proposal
Before you embark on the process of creating the most effective project proposal for your stakeholders, keep in mind the following –
The above steps help you get into the right mindset of creating a document that effectively communicates your project while also keeping in mind some key inter and intra-personal factors that affect your chances of success. With that, you’re now ready to write your own project proposal.
How To Create The Perfect Project Proposal That Gets Your Project Funded
Keep in mind your aim for this project proposal. You want to wow the key people involved in the process. You need those with the funds and resources to buy into your idea, and this is your time to bring your vision to reality.
Step 1: Identify and Define the Problem
Experienced stakeholders, investors, and executives can tell if a project proposal is bound for success or failure within the first 5 minutes of a presentation. You need to ensure that these critical 5 minutes are used in the most impactful manner. And the best way to do so is to state your problem statement.
Think of it this way – what is the utility of your project if it does not intend to solve a problem? You need to convince the audience that there is a key issue, an important and debilitating problem that has so far gone unnoticed, and that you intend to solve it with your project. Use examples, data, and hard facts, rather than opinions and emotions, to indicate the problem’s pervasiveness and how much better things could be if your project is greenlighted.
A great way of highlighting and explaining your problem statement is using a Business Case, which allows you to create a case study of the issues you want to bring attention to. You can find effective business case templates here.
Step 2: Vision Statement
Why should your company care about your project? It is not enough for you to have isolated a problem that you now intend to fix. You also need to think about its long-term implications regarding the company’s goals, objectives, and long-term strategy. If your project does not align with your company’s vision, it’s unlikely to be implemented.
Tie in your overall vision to that of the company, showing the audience that you are thinking about the viability and sustainability of your project and contributing to overall company objectives and strategy.
OKR and Business Goal Templates are a great starting point for coming up with an effective vision statement, giving you the tools to tie in your larger plans and aims using specific metrics and data. Find expertly created OKR and Business Goals templates on SlideUpLift.
Step 3: State the Solution and Benefits
The Benefits outlined in your project proposal are meant to be an extension of your vision statement, explaining in greater detail how your project will benefit the company and align with its long-term strategy. This is also where you start outlining your solution for the problem statement in your proposal.
State the key benefits you anticipate seeing from this project. These can include any cost reductions, new capabilities, changes to existing frameworks, etc. The important thing is to be clear and direct with the benefits you claim your project will provide. Leaving these vague and unclear can make for a proposal that doesn’t get picked up on the virtue of its lack of clarity. Ensure that your benefits are measurable and are in conjunction with your deliverables.
Step 4: The What: Deliverable and Success Criteria
In this step, you will further deconstruct your benefits in the form of tangible artifacts or results that can be expected from the project. Explain what the deliverables of this project are and how they will be delivered.
This is also your projection for the end-goal user expectations from the project. For instance, it may be new technology that you intend to create for a company. Your deliverables should include the tangible products associated with the technology and any other facets of user experience that you can foresee being important and necessary.
With the deliverables, it is important to define the success criteria for your project. Having SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound) success criteria is key to a good proposal. This builds confidence in the stakeholders of your success, as they have a clear set of success criteria to identify and anticipate in your project.
You can use a good template for stating your deliverables that will allow you to visualize the process and make it clear for your stakeholders what you intend to achieve. Find visually appealing deliverables templates here.
Step 5: The How: Approach, Plans, and Deadlines
A good project proposal always states a clear idea of what the actual process of achieving the deliverables will look like. This includes stating soft deadlines and a tentative schedule for the different milestones and deliverables stated in the benefits and solution. Moreover, your approach for your delivery process also needs to be defined as clearly as possible, showing foresight and a good understanding of project management.
The larger project plan is outlined in this part of your project proposal. List down your plans for vendors, staffing, project management frameworks (such as AGILE, Sprint, Waterfall, etc.). This will also function as a working document for your project if your project proposal is a success.
A good way to show the expected trajectory of your project is by using product roadmaps. Roadmaps provide a creative and visual guide for your project. Find creative Product Roadmaps for use in your proposals here. Learn how to create effective roadmaps in your project proposal presentation.
Step 6: Define the Costs and Budget
In this part of the proposal, outline a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with your project – specifically your funding plan. Stakeholders need to understand your plan for your deliverables and benefits in conjunction with your expected funding and costs. Give all the potential overhead, indirect and direct costs. Having a solid financial plan will show the stakeholders that you do not intend to waste their money and have a clear idea of how the project will be financed.
Find expertly crafted Project Cost templates here.
Step 7: Prepare an Executive Summary
Your project proposal is often a detailed, lengthy, and data-heavy document, intending to outline your plans in many intricate details. It may not be suitable for quick presentations or revisions, should you need to provide them to your decision-makers. Preparing an Executive Summary that highlights all the high-points of your proposal, including high-impact data and points, can be extremely beneficial in providing a summary of your project to your stakeholders. It is also a document that allows for retaining information that may have been lost during a long presentation.
SlideUpLift has one of the largest collections of creative and visually stunning Executive Summaries that tell your story in a way that impacts. Also, learn how to build effective executive summaries.
SlideUpLift users have used the following Project Proposal presentations as a starting point to get their projects funded. You can also get creative ideas from them to get started on your project proposal presentation.
Source: Project Proposal Deck by SlideUpLift
Source: Animated Business Proposal Presentation by SlideUpLift
Your project proposal should tell a story and flow in a manner that captures your audience’s attention. Ensure you are not leaving anything to chance and have included everything you intended to tell your stakeholders about the project in a concise and consolidated manner. Paint a picture for the audience, and they’re more likely to be confident in your abilities to bring that picture to life.